184 HISTORY OF PERSIA CHAI
bad, so that you have to carry both food and water. . .
At the end of those eight days you arrive at a Provino
which is called Tonocain." The word Tonocain ij
obviously Tun va Kain, but the place on the map directl)
to the north is Tabas, and it seemed reasonable to suppose
that the Venetian made for it. However, my inquiries
at that town in 1905 showed that there was no caravan
route from Kubanan, and that all caravans travelled via
Chah Kuru to Naiband and Tun.1 Consequently,
although it would be unwise to be dogmatic, I favour
the identification of this latter route, by which I traversed
the Lut from north to south in 1893.
After stating that Tonocain " has a good many towns
and villages," Marco describes the oriental plane or Arbrc
Sol, "which we Christians tztmArbre Sec." I have made
special reference to the treelessness of Persia, and it is
on this account that trees growing without irrigation water
are regarded as sacred. The custom is to make a vow at
such a tree that, if one's wish be fulfilled, a sheep will be
brought and sacrificed beneath it; in token of the vow a
strip of the clothing is torn off and tied to the tree, which
thus presents a curious appearance.
Tun was in the province of Kuhistan, and it has been
mentioned in the previous chapter as having been sacked
by the generals of Hulagu Khan at the opening of the
campaign against the Ismailis. It is probably on this
account that, after a reference to its " surpassingly beauti-
ful women," Marco gives the account of the cc Old Man
of the Mountain," which has been quoted in Chapter LII.
Possibly owing to a lacuna in the manuscript, no details
are given of the illustrious Venetian's onward journey,
which probably ran by Nishapur and Sarakhs, and the
next place mentioned is Sapurgan or Shibrkan, in Afghan
Turkestan. In any case Marco had now passed beyond
the limits of modern Iran, and for the time being we may
bid him farewell.
Ahmad, A.H. 680-683 (1281-1284).—The death of
Abaga gave rise to many intrigues, and ultimately Tagudar
Oghlu, a brother of the deceased monarch, was elected to
1 Journal R.G.S. vol. xxvi. (1905),